Ucluelet locals are encouraged to keep local wildlife wild by securing their attractants and making animals feel unwelcome in town. (Westerly File Photo)

Ucluelet locals urged to secure attractants as bear travels through town

“It’s sticking to relatively green, wooded areas and it still has that natural fear of people,”

A frightened bear is displaying all the right behaviours while making its way through Ucluelet and will likely find its way back to the forest as long as locals keep their garbage away from it and let it know it’s not welcome.

“As long as people keep their attractants secured, this bear does have a chance to just leave the area without being a problem to anybody,” BC Conservation Officer Daniel Eichstadter told the Westerly News on Thursday.

“There’s so much green space and trail area through Ucluelet and it’s so connected to the wilderness that the bear will learn it’s not welcome in this particular part of the Peninsula and, if it’s not getting good rewards for being here, it will move to somewhere where it doesn’t have to work as hard.”

Eichstadter said the bear has been hanging around town for roughly a week and is not currently considered a threat to public safety.

“It’s been poking around some of the green spaces and showing up in people’s yards,” he said. “It’s showing some good bear behaviour so far. It’s still shy of humans and it’s just trying to find out where it’s supposed to be.”

He added the bear was recently chased up a tree by several neighbourhood dogs and is not showing any signs of aggression or habituation.

“It’s sticking to relatively green, wooded areas and it still has that natural fear of people,” he said.

He added early sighting reports called in by locals allowed Conservation Officers to arrive in time to intervene before the animal’s behaviour escalated.

“This bear does still have a chance because we got those early reports of its behaviour. That’s exactly what we want to see,” he said. “We can monitor it from the start and actively work with the community to keep the good bear behaviour going and keep that animal wild, rather than coming into the bear’s behaviour part way through, where it’s already become comfortable and it’s bad behaviour is established.”

He said no bear traps have been set and the COS is hoping the bear will find its way to a more natural habitat if attractants are put away and locals make loud, aggressive noises whenever they spot it.

“The plan is to keep that public education going and to make sure that people keep their attractants put away; that garbage cans are secured, dog food isn’t left laying around, bird feeders are put away and barbecues are cleaned up,” he said. “We want to see that people around the community are scaring it off when it comes into their yards and having that unified voice to the bear that being around humans is not something that’s comfortable or safe. It needs to continue to be hazed away.”

Anyone who spots the bear is encouraged to report their sighting to the COS at 1-877-952-7277.

“Continue the reports coming,” Eichstadter said. “Let us know what’s happening. Keep that open communication going.”